Cargill will assume full ownership of its joint venture company NatureWorks LLC, the maker of Ingeo bio-based plastics and resins. The change in ownership is part of joint venture partner Teijin Limited’s general portfolio restructuring in response to the global economic downturn.
NatureWorks had operated as a Cargill-Teijin joint venture since October 2007. It was the first biopolymers business with commercial scale for Teijin.
The ownership transfer will not affect day-to-day operations at NatureWorks. CEO Marc Verbruggen indicated the company retains strong prospects for continued growth. NatureWorks operates the only production facility of its kind with the economies of scale needed to compete with traditional oil based plastics.
“We like our position right now,” said Mr. Verbruggen. “While the economic downturn slowed sales growth, we still show growth, which can’t be said of many conventional materials today. Sales have notably rebounded since January—a clear demonstration that the Ingeo product traits and environmental advantages are important to customers, even in times of lower oil prices.”
Cargill officials said that establishing the business as an independent, wholly owned Cargill entity provides NatureWorks with the flexibility to pursue a wide range of opportunities.
“The green product space is ripe for investment and expansion as never before,” said Cargill senior vice president Paul Conway. “As a green pioneer, NatureWorks is well established with a broad product and customer base. While others put up pilot plants, NatureWorks has been commercial for six years, is increasing Ingeo production availability at its first facility and exploring possibilities for a second plant. We’ve rounded the first turn while others are at the starting gate.”
Ingeo fibers and plastics are used by over 100 leading brands and retailers in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Product innovations in broad plastics applications include flexible and rigid fresh food packaging, durable consumer articles, beverage packaging, and in fibers: apparel, home textile, personal care and hygiene applications.